Da 31, In Which I Find I have Screwed Up

First off, Happy Easter and happy 4/20, for both if you're exceptionally broad-minded.  Back in the good old days I would have celebrated both.  Or maybe not.  I remember thirty or more years ago we went to a friend's house for Thanksgiving and the special treat was coke.  Not the cola.  I was kind of appalled, though I politely refused and didn't express my reaction.  I hope.  I try not to be rude, but I do tend to be outspoken.

But I digress.  I forgot to send yesterday's tweet into the twitterverse, so the drawing for the Rohan ... oh, shit, did I screw up again?  Phew, no, I didn't.  The drawing for DOGS AND GODDESSES is on for another day.  Just leave a comment telling me what a twit I am and I'll combine yesterday's and today's and pick 5.

And apparently RITUAL SINS, MOONRISE, HIGH SHERIFF OF HUNTINGDON and UNDER AN ENCHANTMENT are still listed at $.99 each (that'll change tomorrow), plus there's SHADOW LOVER at Amazon for $1.99, and all those lovely audios I listed yesterday.  So we'll go with those while I work on something bizarre and special for tomorrow.

I'm spending so much time on this celebration that I'm not getting time to write, and it's making me sort of batty.  Tomorrow I will write.  In fact, after the family leaves this evening I will get my posts and FB's and tweets in order so I can just upload them and then start work on the new book.  It's calling to me with a siren sweetness.  I used to say that I hated the act of writing, I only loved having written.  But that's not really true.  I love the act of telling stories as well.  I don't like the pressure and the deadlines and the worry, but I would write without all those outside stressors.  When I'm depressed (it happens to the best of us and to me a little more than usual due to genetics) the one thing that feels happy and safe is disappearing into a story, either my own or someone else's.  I'm hard-wired that way.  I came from a family of readers and I always read, though I went through a period when I couldn't.  Everything seemed so clunky to me, except the very finest books, and I just stopped.

And then I discovered the joy of audiobooks, and a thousand new writers.  But that's for another day.  Happy Easter, enjoy your lamb or ham or cannabis, and happy spring!

Day 30, in which I catch up

Okay, time to announce winners, make a clarification, and tell you about new goodies.

First, the winners:  For BLACK ICE (e-version or physical) we have five winners.  I'll need your email for e-book delivery or snail mail for physical book (assuming I can find copies).

The winners are:  Belinda, AJ, Vaida, Mickey M and R Whitmor.

Next the clarification.  For seem reason I thought I'd listed the Rohan books, but it was the Russell books, to be delivered when NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT is published.  Those go to:

Sally W., Grace, Katie.Redhead, Joni Schwichtenberg,, D. Kat, Kissyfur, Julianna, Donna Repsher, Lorna, and Lisa Tollefson.

Damn, did I love reading about beloved old books, some I'd forgotten about completely.  It was like catching up with old friends.

Oh, and my gorgeous purple desk came from Amazon (I live in the boonies -- most things come from Amazon, the 21st century's version of the Sears Catalogue.  They have everything!)

So, for today, we have DOGS AND GODDESSES, 5 physical signed copies.  Well, actually we have Jenny and me since I was just down there, and I can send Lani some labels if you'd like her autograph as well.  I'll do the random generator thing to pick winners.

On top of that, for the entire weekend, Tantor Media is holding a sale on audiobook downloads for only $6.99, with the first three Rohan books plus Fire and Ice available today and tomorrow.  Here are a bunch of links:

 

http://www.tantor.com/BookDetail.asp?Product=B0100_Ruthless

 

http://www.tantor.com/BookDetail.asp?Product=B0101_Reckless

 

http://www.tantor.com/BookDetail.asp?Product=B0102_Breathless

 

http://www.tantor.com/BookDetail.asp?Product=B0099_FireIce

Well, that took up a lot of space.  Nevertheless, it works.  I have a passion for audiobooks, and Tantor has some of the best sales.  They also have a lot of Keri Arthur on sale, as well as others, and they're always worth checking out if you're as addicted to audio as I am.

Okay, all caught up.  (Well, I have lots of stuff to send out, including The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, which turned out to have everyone's autograph in them) and I have to clean and figure out what I'm cooking for Easter, but apart from that ...

Which reminds me -- juggling being a wife and mother with being a writer is a major pain.  In fact, it's even worse than that.  Because of my childhood, I took on the role of fixer, of mother to everyone, and I feel responsible for the world.  I wade in and save everyone (including my children, which was my main mistake in raising them), friends, family.  I've taken on the weight of the world, which is ridiculous (in the spirit of Easter I'll tell you my therapist said early on that I wasn't Jesus.  I didn't need to martyr myself).

Fortunately I wrote the first book before I met my husband, sold it before we got married, and had 9 years of marriage (writing steadily) before we had children.  So when they arrived I was in the middle of contracts.  The first six months I had my brother come in, then I found Lorelei who took good care of them until Richie's factory closed and we decided it made more sense for him to be a house husband.  But I still did a lot of the household stuff -- fortunately I'm a very lax housekeeper.  

Even though it was my job, my vocation, my calling, it was far too easy to push it aside if someone else needed me.  After all, I made my own hours -- I could rearrange them to suit.  And therein lay the trouble.  I would procrastinate like crazy, until my back was against the wall and I would run out of extensions (or I needed the money I got for turning the book in) and I'd pack up my laptop, go to a motel and finish the book in a white heat.  It tends to be the way I write anyway, since the very first book.   Everything's building up to an explosive climax and I just can't stop writing until it's done.

But I had to wait till my own crisis time before I felt comfortable claiming that time for myself.  It was a very unhealthy way to live, until I realized what I was doing, and I'm much better now.  It does help that the children are grown but now I have a tendency to say yes to having my grandson over when I should be working.  But I'm also better at saying no when I really need to work.  So I guess it's never too late to learn.  I deserve the time, the writing deserves the time.

In fact, writing is a lifelong guessing game.  Every time you think you have it figured out the Girls in the Basement throw you a curve ball, and you have to reinvent your process all over again.  I no longer get frustrated by it, or try to force the new reality into the old one.  Life is change, writing is life, writing is change.  At least for me.

Hmmm.  I'm picking winners from the comments (which will show up eventually) so I'd better come up with a question you'd be interested in answering and I'd be interested in reading.

Who do you think is incredibly hot?  (Standard edition, like Somerhalder).  And what rather plain person do you find irresistible (for me it's Christopher Eccleston as Dr. Who).

Let the games begin.

Day 28, In Which I Discuss Where My Ideas Come From

First off, I'll announce the winners of DOGS AND GODDESSES tomorrow after I get home and figure it out.  And let me remind you your comments will be invisible until I get in and approve them, but have faith that they register.

Today we've got a treat -- a drawing for copies of BLACK ICE the iconic (for me) book of sex violence and transcendent happy ending.  I absolutely loved hearing about people's beloved books yesterday.  I'd be equally interested in hearing your favorite obscure movie.  Doesn't have to be good or bad, just one you really really love.  Mine is "Miss Tatlock's Millions" from 1948.  It's probably my #1 movie with greats like "Notorious" and "Last of the Mohicans" coming a little further down the list.  What's yours?

And now a brief discourse on where I get my ideas.  Everywhere.  As I've already told you, I got BLACK ICE in a taxi cab during a one-day trip to Paris, listening to the radio.  It didn't come to me until a few months later, but when it did it was like Athena springing fully formed from the head of Zeus.  I wrote that puppy in record time.

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I used to get my best ideas driving.  When you drive your critical mind is focused on the task at hand, and it leaves your dreaming mind free to come up with all sorts of things.  It's only recently that I've found the most fabulous alternative.  I go to the huge, Olympic pool at the nearby private school, and I use a flotation belt and do water walking in the deep end.  There's usually no one there, and I walk around and around one quarter of it, coming up with the outline of the next day's work and long-range ideas.  I love it -- it feels so effortless, and it actually makes me want to exercise.  The only drawback is that occasionally there's someone chatty, and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so it blows the work part of the hour.  But I can usually manage to avoid  it, and the lap swimmers on the other side leave me alone.  Plus there's the drive there and back (25 miles each way -- I live in the boonies) to give me either an added boost or time to listen to my soundtrack.  (More on that another day).

Crusie and Lani Diane Rich and I have come up with a whole fairy-tale world and another one based on water nymphs that simply came from a trip to an aquarium.  I hear a snippet of a song, see an actor in a role, smell autumn leaves burning (though they don't burn them in Vermont -- they're all used for mulch) or wet spring earth (smell seems to be the most evocative of the senses).

I'm on the hook for so many books.  Two for Amazon at the moment (and I want to write so many more of those), a final Fallen novel, a final Rohan novel about Emma and Brandon, a book about a '30s art forger, another about a steampunk police investigator with a mechanical prosthesis (mind out of the gutter, people -- it's his arm), a soul reaper in Regency England, a billionaire with massive secrets, characters who are immortal, a 1940s RAF pilot and a married CO's wife and ... It's astonishing.  I sit down with a notebook and pen and the stories just pour out.  Which is why slowing down or retirement simply isn't an option.  I have to write these stories.

The 1940s story came from listening to a Moody Blues song called "Forever Autumn."  Don't ask me why.  The art forger might be a little Indiana Jones crossed with something else I haven't identified.  The steampunk is Jack the Ripper crossed with gasworks factories and a family of strong women.  Oh, and I forgot Beggar's Ken, a series of books about a den of thieves in England in the mid 1800s and three different people who ran it (an offshoot of the Rohan books).

So many ideas.  It's more a question of where don't I get my ideas.  When I was young I survived a stormy upbringing by telling myself stories when I ran out of things to read.  When I grew up I took a coping mechanism and made it into both a calling and a way to make a living.  I'm a practical soul for all that my head is in the clouds.

I'm driving back to Vermont today, daydreaming about Japanese rock stars and listening to Eloisa James's new novel.  Much as I hate to leave Crusie I've got things to do, books to write.

So tell me about your favorite obscure or unexpected beloved movie.  And you might win a copy of BLACK ICE, either e-format or paperback, and prepare to be shocked, shocked, I tell you!

 

 

Day 26, In which I talk about favorite books

First, the daily treat.  Don't forget to enter for a brand new Kindle Paperwhite http://tinyurl.com/ofkoala at Amazon.  And for today, we're giving away ten sets of the Russell Sisters books:  NEVER KISS A RAKE, NEVER TRUST A PIRATE, NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT, to be sent out as soon as NEVER MARRY A VISCOUNT becomes available (late August).

So, favorite books.  You don't need the down and dirty details of my unpleasant childhood -- suffice it to say I survived by disappearing into a book, and I thought I'd share some of my absolute favorites.  I'll do it chronologically, starting with the earliest ones I remember loving. After all, it was books that made me want to write, made me want to create my own worlds.

The earliest was probably the Bartholomew Cubbins books by Dr. Seuss.  That was well before the Hop on Pop stuff, and it involved a castle and a brave page boy, so I guess I was primed to love historical romance even back then.  By the time I got into chapter books I was hooked on the Twin Books by Lucy Fitch Perkins (they were very very old even when I was young) and The Secret Garden and A Little Princess.  Those are obvious.  But were others.  I had a weakness for historical books set in classical times, preferably with a hint of romance, such as MARA, DAUGHTER OF THE NILE (which is still available and still holds up), THE LOST QUEEN OF EGYPT, UNWILLING VESTAL, JULIA VALERIA.  Maybe it was my grandfather's blood coming through my veins (he was a classics professor at Princeton).  I loved early fantasy -- BEYOND THE PAW PAW TREES and LORETTA MASON POTTS (written by the author of Harvey, Mary Chase) and the Borrowers, especially once Arietty got a boyfriend when the Borrowers went afield.  I didn't like Mary Poppins -- she was too mean, nor The Hobbit (no girls), nor horse books, though I liked Nancy Drew, particularly Old Skool (this was the 1950s and I liked the ones set in the 1930s that hadn't been updated).  Those Verney Girls by Gwendoline Courtney, the Sadlers Wells Ballet books by Lorna Hill (didn't like Ballet Shoes by Noel Streating, though). I was very picky.  No, that's not true -- I read constantly.  But there were books that many children loved that left me cold. Yes to Winnie the Pooh, no to Beatrix Potter.

I was reading adult books by third grade -- and I soon became enamored of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt -- in fact, it was MISTRESS OF MELLYN that made me want to be a writer.  I was much more broadminded in my teens -- I didn't insist on books with a romance or written by a woman, though I think I tended to prefer them.  I didn't switch over to mostly female authors until I spent time with a friend of my brother-in-law, who asked me what I read.  When I told him he sniffed and said he didn't read female authors.  I thought I could at least return the favor.

In fact, i can list the male authors I read on one hand, and most of them are dead now.  John D. MacDonald and the Travis McGee novels, Tony Hillerman, Dick Francis, Jonathan Gash.  I also noticed early on that when men wrote under a woman's name, writing gothics, they usually stank on ice. Just try a Deanna Dwyer if you can find one (Dean Koontz).  

It's easy enough to list my ten favorite writers nowadays (though I'll deliberately avoid my close friends like Crusie).

1. Laura Kinsale (I've been listening to her audiobooks and remembering all over again why I adore her)

2.  Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas 

3.  Loretta Chase

4. Joanna Bourne (damn, do I love that woman!)

5.  Linda Howard

6.  Lisa Kleypas 

7.  Sherry Thomas

8.  Meredith Duran

9.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips

10.  Eloisa James

Then there's the next round, like Katie McGarry, Elizabeth Hoyt, Ilona Andrews, Kelley Armstrong, Patricia Briggs, Nalini Singh, Jeaniene Frost, Diana Gabaldon (she probably belongs in the top ten), Deborah Harkness, Darynda Jones.  So many wonderful books out there.

Of course, ruler of them all are Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer.  In a perfect world I'd be a cross between the two of them, probably why I like to alternate Regency era historicals with romantic suspense.  I suspect my books would make both those fine British ladies faint (and Mary Stewart is still with us).  God, and I forgot to mention Elizabeth Peters, and the Fever Books by Karen Marie Moning, and ...

Last but not least, there's my favorite book from the last ten years,, one I loved so much I just sat and hugged it when I finished it.  A book without sex.  Or without a love scene -- sex just breathes from the pages, though the author would probably be highly offended by the notion.  That's SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley.

You may have noted there tend to be more than a few vampires on my list, and very little romantic suspense apart form Linda Howard.  Modern romantic suspense, good as it is, is filled with good guy heroes.  FBI agents, soldiers, US Marshalls.   I have a weakness for bad guy heroes, in case you haven't noticed.  I think I need to persevere with the current crop of romantic suspense writers -- there's great writing there, and once I find a story that works for me I'll be their slave forever.

This isn't one of those stupid questions one asks at the end of a blog in order to make people comment and the blogger is supposed to sound like she's interested.  If you want the three book set, including first crack at book #3, which is the best, then you gotta comment anyway, and I really want to know.

Do you remember the books you absolutely adored as a child?  Do you remember the earliest books with a romance that you read?  Do you still have copies of them?  So many of my beloved ones were library books and I could only run away with so many.

Oh, and speaking of stolen library books, I forgot Mary Elgin and the three books she wrote (all of which I stole from the library -- when it comes to books I'm amoral and ruthless.  Plus I was a lot younger and there was no ebay or ABEbooks.  I know, I'm evil.)

So, tell me what you loved, and if they still hold up.  (Mara held up for me, Julia Valeria not so much).